How Shall We Bless Those Who Come After Us?

According to Jewish tradition, on the eve of Shabbat and holidays, before reciting Kiddush, parents bless their children. You can find these blessings in your siddur. There you will see that sons are blessed with these words: “May God inspire you to live like Ephraim and Manasseh.” Rashi teaches that the blessing for boys is… Read More

The Bond of Brotherliness

Why does Joseph suddenly wake up to his familial ties and reveal himself as the long-lost son and brother? Apparently, he was inspired by Judah’s stirring speech that opens our Torah reading. How did Judah strike such a responsive chord in a Joseph, whose heart had previously been so impervious to filial and sibling sensitivity?… Read More

But by My Spirit

It is a common scene in the United States at this time of year. The shopping malls, television commercials and all public venues are transformed visually. As Dec. 25 approaches, we see the evidence that we do indeed live in a predominantly Christian country. Images of Santa Claus and his reindeer, evergreen trees with dazzling… Read More

Clothes Make the Story

To Paraphrase Mark Twain, “Clothes make the [story].” Throughout the course of this week’s Torah portion, references to clothing accentuate and propel the unfolding drama. As the parshah opens, the tension between Joseph and his brothers reaches its boiling point. They conspire to kill him out of jealousy, for he is their father’s favorite son,… Read More

Our Jewish Birthright

The biblical kashrut laws for Jews have always been a powerful tool in keeping us a “nation set apart.” We left Jacob last week leaving Laban and Laban-land behind, heaven-bent on returning to the land of Abraham and to the house of Isaac. Jacob understands that his inner self has been overtaken by the deceitful… Read More

Opening the Well of Interpretation

In Jewish tradition, wells give life by providing not only water, but also a meeting place for our ancestors to find their mates. In this week’s Torah portion, Jacob meets his beloved Rachel at a well. Emboldened perhaps by love at first sight, he rolls away the heavy stone covering the mouth of the well… Read More

Friday Night with Grandpa

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My paternal grandfather, Chaim Yitzchak Weinreb, was an old-school Jew, with roots in the region of eastern Poland known as Galicia. He had studied under renowned Talmudists back in the old country, and his fervent wish was to see his grandchildren grow up to be dedicated Talmud students. I was his oldest grandchild and discovered… Read More

The Importance of Free Will

This Shabbat we read from Parshat Vayera, which tells the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God destroyed these two towns filled with malicious people because they were so evil, God could not help them find the path of goodness. Many times in the Torah, one must delve very deep into the text, looking at every… Read More

Rachel’s Desire

“Nice boots,” my friend Rachel said one day, as we walked home from Hebrew day school. “I got them from one of my aunts, I’m her favorite!” I said. “So let me know when you are ready to give them away.” Rachel said, as she gave me a wink. The next week as we walked… Read More

A Call to Help the Children

In this week’s parshah, Abram is put to the first test. He is told to leave his homeland and go to the “land which I will show you.” He packs up all of his possessions, including his wife, his cattle, his servants and slaves and his tents. He then leaves his homeland and goes to… Read More